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CCHA notebook: St. Thomas is a tougher out this season

Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings said it’s almost night-and-day compared to what the Tommies looked like a season ago.

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St. Thomas head coach Rico Blasi (grey jacket) watches the action against St. Cloud State in the third period Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at the St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.
Jason Wachter/The Rink Live

Rico Blasi isn’t necessarily fond of moral victories, but it’s clear that the second-year St. Thomas head coach is respected around the league for the work he has done with the program in such a short amount of time after the program elevated from Division III.

The Tommies were swept in a home-and-home against Minnesota State last weekend, losing 7-2 and 4-3. The first game was much closer than the score indicated and the second saw the Tommies with a chance to tie it up swatted away at the last second by a Maverick goaltender.

Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings said it’s almost night-and-day compared to what the team looked like a season ago.

“Rico’s been successful for a long time,” Hastings said on Saturday, referring to Blasi’s previous work at Miami. “What he built and helped build at Miami, he’s doing now at St. Thomas. We were fortunate to be able to get two wins. … A lot of respect. I think their young guys are talented, and they’re making an impact there. It’s a great combination between their young guys and the guys that came back and understand what Rico wants to get done.”

The Tommies are 2-8-0 on the season and are a win away from matching last season’s win total (they finished 3-32-1). And, unlike last season, which saw many lopsided scorelines, they’ve never really been out of any game this year.

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St. Thomas is scoring an average of 2.2 goals per game this season versus 3.8 against. Last season, the Tommies averaged 1.7 and gave up 4.6.

It’s a great combination between their young guys and the guys that came back and understand what Rico wants to get done.
Mike Hastings, Minnesota State head coach

“They are much improved,” Ferris State’s Bob Daniels said after his team split with the Tommies Oct. 28-29. The Bulldogs needed overtime to win their opener against the Tommies 3-2 before losing 5-2 in the finale. “We knew that coming in, we had seen the video of them against Penn State the weekend before and knew they were a very good team, so we had an inkling they were going to be hard to play against.”

“I think their belief is stronger this year, and this is year two of their Division I program, so those guys last year that weathered a difficult season from a win-loss perspective probably feel they’re more prepared for this year, and they also brought in a bunch of new faces,” Bowling Green head coach Ty Eigner said. “They play hard.”

Eigner looks at St. Thomas’ program as similar to BGSU’s when he arrived there an assistant in 2010.

“I look at where they’re at similarly to where we were when we got here 13 years ago,” he said. “They’re starting a new program, but it was a really, really good Division III program. We picked up a team that had fallen on some tough times. Right now, the recruits they bring in, they’re bringing in players that are going to help. I think they feel good about the players they’re bringing in right now.

The Tommies will travel to Ohio this weekend to take on a Falcons team that beat them all four times they played last season.

“We’ve got to take another step,” Blasi said during his Monday press conference. “That means playing consistent hockey for 60 minutes. And we’ve got some work to do still.”

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St. Cloud State forward Grant Cruikshank (19) and Minnesota State defenseman Andy Carroll (4) battle for the puck against the boards in the third period Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

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Trio of Mavs given weekly honors

Three members of the Minnesota State men’s hockey team were named CCHA Players of the Week for the games of Nov. 4-5. Minnesota State’s David Silye, Andy Carroll and Luc Wilson were named Forward, Defenseman and Rookie of the Week, respectively, while Bowling Green’s Christian Stoever earned Goaltender of the Week honors.

Silye had five goals in MSU’s two-game sweep of St. Thomas. The a junior from Amprior, Ontario, scored twice in Friday’s 7-2 win before netting a natural hat trick in the first period of Saturday’s game.

“He’s put a lot of work in over the summer,” Hastings said of Silye, who now lead MSU with right goals and 11 points. “He had an opportunity to go to development camp this year, and had a great development camp. He’s playing in all situations for us, power play, penalty kill, top six minutes, and us having [Sam] Morton go down as early as he did and [Ryan] Sandelin go out as early as he did, we needed somebody to step up and I thought David did.”

Carroll, a senior defenseman from Northfield, Minnesota, had three points over the weekend for MSU including on the game-winning goal on Friday. He also added a blocked shot.

Wilson, meanwhile, had a five-point weekend – the first collegiate points of his career. The freshman from Duncan, British Columbia, scored his first college goal with two assists on Friday and added another two helpers on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Stoever set the tone for Bowling Green as they earned a split with Michigan Tech over the weekend. The sophomore from Northville, Michigan, went 1-1-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. His 36 saves on Saturday helped the Falcons win 6-1 over the Huskies.

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